There is a lot of pressure for students to do extracurricular activities. Many colleges view EC’s as a critical element of the application. There are varying degrees of a student's engagement level: Is the student doing enough in this regard? Are they following their passions? Or are they doing the activity because they were told to?
I pose the following critical question to get to the core: Who owns the extracurricular activity?
It sounds like a crazy question…shouldn’t the answer be “Of course, the student owns it?”
But, consider the possibility that the parent owns the activity:
The image of a parent working on their elementary or middle school students school project is something many of us can relate to. To the parents, they may remember their own experience gaining assistance on building a volcano that used some type of baking soda to erupt or a 3D view of a scene from history—maybe something like George Washington crossing the Delaware River in a boat. Once the student is in high school, the academic grades become even more important—especially for college admission—and extracurricular activities compete for the student’s available time. It becomes tempting for some to take “shortcuts”. This may be simply a parent wanting to stem the tide of tears when a complex high school assignment is behind schedule and the student struggles to complete it in time. Time for Super Mom or Super Dad to step in and save the day!
From a practical matter, is the student the one asking how they can help volunteer for a community service organization, or is the parent the one that sets up the activity? Although most parents would say that “helping” their son or daughter is their only option, this support may include some long-term harm. What will happen when their kid is in college and the parent can no longer “own” or get involved with the activity?